Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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Replacing Resolutions With Resolve, Part 7

It is said, that if you want to create a habit or a new behavior that lasts a lifetime you have to practice it religiously for 30 days. If this was true for everyone, all of our New Year’s resolutions would be achieved by January 31st and the process of creating change would feel far less mysterious. In the last 6 weeks, I’ve been sharing the maxims that are essential for creating lasting change. To recap, these key steps are:

1. Map out your vision for what you want to change
2. Identify your motivators as well as stuff that sucks the wind out of your sails
3. Make your list of available resources
4. Create your support network
5. Design your reward system to celebrate accomplishments
6. Write down your action steps and start
7. Evaluate your progress and return to Step 1

Let’s explore the seventh step. Evaluating your progress requires that you look back and consider what worked and what didn’t, determine whether you attained your desired outcome or if there is more work to be done. This “final” step is a perfect illustration of the cyclical nature of change.

If, after evaluating, you determine that you have successfully attained the change you sought you will still return to Step 1. Why? As Niccolo Machiavelli said, “One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.” With success comes confidence and confidence is the breeding ground for action. It is perfectly natural to feel a deep reserve of fuel to continue when you find yourself looking back and marveling at all you have accomplished.

If, after evaluating your progress, you determine that you want to refine your goals, you will find yourself returning to Step 1 organically. When the journey toward change lands you in a place you didn’t expect or a little farther away from what you hoped for, you can take it as an opportunity to retune your GPS and begin again. As Harriet Tubman said, “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

If, after evaluating your progress, you determine that you didn’t reach your goal, it isn’t necessary to call your attempt at change a failure, condemn yourself or throw up you hands in disgust. Instead, I urge you to take what you learned from your experience and return to Step 1. As Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Use what you learned and refine how you proceed with each step. Did you need a clearer vision or goal for what you wanted to attain? Did you identify your motivators? What sucked the wind out of your sails? What about your resources? Did they actually provide you with the fuel to keep at it? Was you support network truly supportive or do you have a weak link there? Did you reward yourself when you did well? Were your action steps clear? Did you write them down? Making change happen is a complex process. So many give up when they don’t reach their goal the first time they try to attain it. All we need to understand is, just like everything else, making the change you seek takes practice.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I would love to know where you are in your journey toward change. In this final article of the series on Replacing Resolutions With Resolve, I invite you to share your progress, your setbacks, your triumphs, your motivators and your successes. If you need a helping hand with any or all of these steps, call or email me. I want to help you keep your resolutions this year.